The 2,400-page indictment filed last month as part of an investigation into the terrorist Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) seeks between 15 and 22.5 years in jail for Ersanlı, who is accused of holding a senior position in the KCK. Between seven-and-a-half to 15 years is being demanded for Zarakolu, who is also accused of aiding the group. The İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court announced on Monday that the indictment had been accepted, paving the way for the start of the case.
The indictment asserts that Ersanlı was in charge of the Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) training course -- called the Politics Academy -- and maintains that the content of the course was heavily influenced by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the KCK. The prosecution alleges that, as the person in charge of the BDP's training program, Ersanlı can be considered a leader of the group.
Ersanlı and Zarakolu were arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the KCK, an umbrella group that allegedly encompasses the terrorist PKK and its affiliated organizations.
The KCK, according to the indictment, is run by Murat Karayılan. Three people make up the KCK’s executive council: Kudbettin Yazbaşı, who the indictment names as the prime suspect in the trial; Ali Durç, who is still at large; and Nihat Oğraş, who is already a suspect in an ongoing terrorism case at the İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court. Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is also in the indictment, listed as the leader of both the PKK and KCK.
Karayılan is listed as the head of the “executive” branch of the KCK. Karayılan is followed by Sabri Ok, the KCK Turkey Council representative, who resides in Europe. Durç, Oğraş and Yazbaşı are accused of constituting the KCK Executive Council. The person in charge of the KCK’s İstanbul Provincial Executive Council is Mümtas Aydeniz, the indictment says. According to the indictment, the KCK İstanbul branch is structured into several categories -- namely, the Justice Commission, the Social Sphere, the Political Sphere, the Ideological Arena, the Democratic and Free Women’s Movement (DÖKH), and the Financial Sphere. This structure applies to all provincial chapters of the KCK throughout Turkey. The indictment says this organizational structure has led the residents of several cities in the Southeast to not go to court but to instead turn to the so-called KCK judicial mechanisms to handle conflicts.
The indictment asserts that a copy of written orders from the PKK headquarters in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq to its militants in cities was found in a search of Ersanlı’s home. The letter was sent from Karayılan and addressed to Oğraş. Prosecutors have established that an email sent to the KCK’s upper-level members by Oğraş from a Hotmail account was based on this document.
The indictment was prepared by İstanbul Specially Authorized Prosecutor Adnan Çimen, who submitted it to the İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court on Monday. The indictment implicates 1,400 people and accuses 193 suspects -- 147 of whom are currently under arrest -- of various terrorism-related crimes. There are testimonies from individuals who testified as witnesses in the indictment, one of whom has the status of a secret witness.
BDP risks closure
The indictment also levels serious accusations at BDP deputies, maintaining that there is an organic link between the pro-Kurdish party and the KCK. According to the prosecution, BDP deputies meet once a week with KCK members. The prosecution has also sent a copy of the indictment to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which has the power to launch closure cases against political parties. The BDP might risk closure following the Supreme Court of Appeals’ prosecutors’ examination of the indictment.
The BDP’s Political Academy is dealt with extensively in the indictment, which asserts that the content lectured at the academy is very similar to the Metina camp of the PKK based in northern Iraq, saying the only difference between Metina and the BDP academy is its location.
Ersanlı responsible for Political Academies
According to the indictment, Professor Ersanlı is in charge of all BDP-affiliated Political Academies across Turkey. The prosecution demands 38 years for the professor, accusing her of being an executive leader of the armed group and propagating its cause. Publisher Zarakolu is accused of “knowingly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.” The prosecutor demands up to 15 years for the publisher.
The prosecution also claimed that about 80 to 85 percent of the PKK/KCK “city councils” are made up of BDP members. However, there is competition between the BDP and the PKK/KCK camp, according to the indictment. This claim was based on a speech delivered by a member of the KCK at a meeting of the organization recorded on July 9, 2011. “There is continuous competition. Is it the council or the political party that is superior? I really don’t understand why there is this discussion of superiority? Is this about being superior or is it about everyone doing their best to further this struggle? The political party [BDP] is an agency of ours, an institution.”
Conversations recorded during the technical monitoring phase of the investigation, most of which were recorded at KCK meetings, comprise the backbone of the indictment.
The indictment says the KCK extorted money, which it called “donations,” from the locals in the “imaginary autonomous land called Kurdistan.” The indictment also includes expressions from KCK and BDP officials that some locals were considered “KCK citizens” under the KCK’s Convention, which is the group’s constitution. The terrorist attacks that took place over the past few years sought to create chaos, confusion and to undermine the sovereignty of the Turkish state.
Most of the İstanbul KCK branches were held at the BDP building in Beyoğlu, the indictment says, based on testimony from a secret witness who uses the alias Haydar in the indictment. According to this person, there are 300 members in the Council of Turkey.
‘Your services no longer needed’
The KCK/PKK even fired people based on their performance, according to secret witness Haydar. In his testimony now included in the indictment, Haydar says: “Members who fail to carry out orders are kicked out of the group. I don’t remember his name now, but the person responsible for the Esenler area was given orders to buy gas for Molotov cocktails for a demonstration. But this couldn’t be carried out because he failed to find the gas needed to make Molotov cocktails. He was later removed from his position.”
How PKK collected money
Haydar also said the KCK City Council in İstanbul had the main functions of promoting the PKK to people from the East and Southeast. “Also, they were expected to collect money by leaving donation boxes at people’s homes. The task consists of visiting the homes of Kurdish families between the 28th of the month and the fourth of the following month and leaving there a donation bank. Forty percent of the income collected in such a manner would be given to the BDP’s district office, 10 percent to the BDP provincial branch and 50 percent to the KCK for rural areas.”
Another witness, Erkan Yanıt, briefed the prosecution on the PKK’s recruitment process. According to his testimony, young people in cities are recruited from the BDP’s district branches in urban areas. Yanıt notes that every person who manages to send a new recruit to fight in the East and Southeast is paid a TL 7,000 award.